I’m not comfortable with the idea of Donald Trump as president. On the other hand, I’m not comfortable with the idea of Hillary Clinton as president, either.
I tend to have a different set of priorities than those in the national spotlight. I’m primarily concerned with issues like putting teeth into the confrontation clause, figuring out how the ancient language of “unreasonable searches” applies in a world not imagined by those who invented the phrase, and wondering if I’m the only one who actually sees the term “excessive bail shall not be required…” to kick off the Eighth amendment. You know, issues of freedom.
That’s not to say that matters of national debate don’t concern me. They just tend to fall lower on the list of pressing things. Because of that, I tend to vote 3rd party. It’s been that way since I cast my first vote (for Ross Perot, duh) in 1992.
When Even Ross Perot Can’t Save Us.
But what about when the issues that concern me don’t line up with anybody on the ballot?
Then I’m damn sure not voting for a major party candidate.
I think this is what Charles Blow called a “protest vote” in his New York Times piece today. In The Folly of the Protest Vote, Mr. Blow (an obvious and unabashed Clinton supporter) tells me that I’m ruining America for the kids:
When I am confronted by the “not voting” or “protest voting” crowd, their argument often boils down to one of principle: They can’t possibly vote for Trump or Clinton because both are flawed in their own ways.
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There is a simple truth here: Either Clinton or Trump will be the next president of the United States. Not Jill Stein. Not Gary Johnson. Clinton or Trump.
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This election isn’t just about you or me, or Clinton or Trump. This election is quite literally about the future, all of our and our children’s and their children’s futures.
Mr. Blow either likes the way the system has worked, has no idea how we ended up with these two candidates, or is too blinded by his party affiliation to care. As I see it, we have a political system that harms voters by discouraging and blocking out viable candidates. Lack of legitimate choice is a bigger threat to our kids than anything.
Blame it on basketball.
Teams are great. It’s nice to have rigidly defined teams- especially in basketball, horseshoes, and war. Otherwise it gets tough to decide who won.
Teams work best when the rules of the game are fair. In the NBA they play on the same court, the baskets are the same height, and the rules to get into the playoffs are the same. The playoff champion has to win the same number of games, no matter what city they’re playing for.
Imagine if the Bulls and Lakers re-wrote the rules of the NBA and decided that they only had to win half as many games as the other teams. Imagine if they made it easier on themselves in the playoffs. Imagine decades worth of NBA finals games where it’s Bulls v. Lakers.
Pretty great, right? It is for us in Chicago (because we already know what happens when the Bulls and Lakers meet in the finals). Not so great for Orlando, San Antonio or New York. Not so great for anybody who doesn’t have the easy path to the promised land. Terrible for the league and the basketball-loving public.
It wouldn’t take long for people to become upset with the NBA if it were rigged to that extent. People would stop watching. Teams wouldn’t both showing up. The league would fold. The strength of the NBA is in the number of teams, all starting a the year with the same chance (unless you’re the Milwaukee Bucks… let’s be real here).
Almost sounds like politics.
If only politics were like basketball- a number of parties with a diverse set of concerns vying for our votes. What if the beginning of each election cycle saw a fair number of parties with the same chance? What if different parties focused on different issues and the voting public could decide what’s important. What if each year wasn’t a competition between the political equivalence of only the Lakers and Bulls?
The entire process is more restricted and much harder for 3rd party candidates and independents. The whole thing is rigged to keep the major parties from having to split the power-pie into any more pieces. Even judicial elections are tainted by the skewed system.
What if becoming a judge was less about picking the right political tribe and more about the interpretation of law or the administration justice?
Our political NBA keeps churning out the Bulls v. Lakers because our major political parties have made ballot access (and the entire following process) to other viable candidates nearly impossible. It’s nationwide. It’s statewide.
It’s asinine that such important, life-altering political matters are decided by people picked and ushered through the process by one of only two teams. Yet, if there’s one thing that bands them both together it’s making sure nobody else has a chance.
Mr. Blow wants you to ignore that. Mr. Blow wants to shame you out of voting as you please. Mr. Blow doesn’t know or doesn’t care that Donald Trump isn’t a problem, he’s a symptom of an ailing system more geared to keep either of those parties in power than to do what’s best for the country.
Why else would all those good, principled Republicans be choking on their tongues as they endorse Trump?
So to you, Mr. Blow, I say “take your opinion and shove it.” It’s not that I’m not concerned for the future of your kids. It’s that I am concerned for their future, and want to make sure they’re not afflicted with the same limited, poor choices that we current see. If I’m protesting anything, it’s the idea that America deserves so few choices.
I’ll vote for whomever I’d like. Regardless of what team they’re on. Even if it’s the Lakers (but probably not the Raptors… let’s be serious here.)